||This genus of 30 or so species is named after Paion, physician to the gods in Greek mythology. Most are herbaceous perennials native to temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere. These shrubby peonies, or tree peonies, have persistent woody stems and their flowers are among the largest and most brilliantly colored of all shrubs; their foliage is also highly decorative. Normally hardy even in the coldest climates, they do need some protection from early spring frost.
||CULTIVATION: Tree peonies are best suited to deep fertile soils of basaltic origin, heavily fed annually with organic matter; soils should not be allowed to dry out in summer. Protection from strong winds and scorching sun is essential. The only pruning necessary is the removal of spent flowerheads and dead or misplaced shoots. Propagation from seed is not easy, as various special requirements have to be met; apical grafting is commonly used, with the graft union being buried 3 in (8 cm) below soil level.